Sanders Feud with DNC Chair Gets Personal

Goes after her job, endorsing her opponent in Florida primary.
By Steven Klett
Steven Klett
Steven Klett
May 23, 2016 Updated: May 24, 2016

Bernie Sanders continues to break with the leader of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, siding instead with her Democratic congressional opponent Tim Canova. 

“Well, clearly, I favor her opponent,” Sanders told Tapper. “His views are much closer to mine than as to Wasserman Schultz’s.”

He also added that if he won the nomination, that would effectively end her chairmanship in the DNC, and sent out a letter to supporters asking for contributions to Canova’s campaign. 

Wasserman Schultz is battling Canova in the Florida primary contest Aug. 30 for her congressional seat. Canova’s campaign is similar to Sanders’s, drawing on grassroots support, calling for small donations of $20, and decrying Wasserman Schultz’s “pools of dark money in politics.”

“Like Bernie, we are running a campaign that’s funded by working Americans, not big corporations or wealthy elites. I know that our coalition of nurses, teachers, students, seniors, and working Americans can come together to undo the damage Debbie Wasserman Schultz has done in Congress and at the Democratic National Committee,” wrote Canova following Sanders’s endorsement. 

The Sanders campaign has long been critical of Wasserman Schultz—early on for the scant number of Democratic debates scheduled at inconvenient times, to last week, when Sanders’s campaign manager Jeff Weaver said that Wasserman Schultz was “throwing shade” on the campaign. 

Following Sanders’s endorsement of her opponent, the leader of the DNC said that she was remaining neutral as far as her duties are concerned in the Democratic race. 

“I am so proud to serve the people of Florida’s 23rd district and I am confident that they know that I am an effective fighter and advocate on their behalf in Congress,” Wasserman Schultz said.

“Even though Senator Sanders has endorsed my opponent, I remain, as I have been from the beginning, neutral in the presidential Democratic primary. I look forward to working together with him for Democratic victories in the fall.”

This comes after days of criticism by the Chairwoman of the Sanders campaign for his response over the Democratic State Convention in Nevada when there were reports of violence.

In a statement, Sanders condemned the violence, but also took aim at the DNC’s claim that the Sanders supporters had a “penchant for violence,” accusing the DNC of tipping the delegate nomination in Clinton’s favor. 

“Our campaign of course believes in non-violent change and it goes without saying that I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals. But, when we speak of violence, I should add here that months ago, during the Nevada campaign, shots were fired into my campaign office in Nevada and apartment housing complex my campaign staff lived in was broken into and ransacked.”

Wasserman Schultz didn’t feel that that was enough. 

“With all due respect, when there is a ‘but’ in between condemnation of violence generally, and after the word ‘but’ you go on to seemingly justify the reason that the violence and intimidation has occurred, then that falls short of making sure that going forward this kind of conduct doesn’t occur in the future,” she said.

The Sanders response was swift, characterizing the DNC chairwoman as a divider and not a uniter. 

“It’s been pretty clear almost from the get-go that she has been working against Bernie Sanders—I mean, there’s no doubt about it—for personal reasons,” Weaver said, again ticking through the criticisms he launched earlier, but this time adding that the chairwoman “appointed really hostile Hillary Clinton partisans” to head standing committees, too.

“Debbie Wasserman Schultz has really been a divider and not really provided the kind of leadership that the Democratic Party needs,” he said.

Steven Klett